Lawless

Sexual Violence in Alaska

The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica are investigating sexual violence in Alaska, and why the situation isn’t getting better.

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Unheard

Alaska has the highest rate of sexual assault in the nation. Yet it is a secret so steeped into everyday life that discussing it disrupts the norm. These women and men did not choose to be violated, but they now choose to speak about what happened.

Lawless

At least one in three Alaska villages has no local law enforcement. Sexual abuse runs rampant, public safety resources are scarce, and Governor Mike Dunleavy wants to cut the budget.

Other Entries

School District That Employed Principal Despite Sex Abuse Complaints Will Pay $3.8 Million to His Victims

An Alaska school principal who abused young girls kept his job despite years of complaints. Now the district will pay millions to his victims. His conviction is part of a series of failures by the state’s schools to protect students from educators.

Alaskan Law Requires DNA From Accused Criminals, but Officials Failed to Collect Samples From 21,000 People

Alaska authorities neglected to collect DNA swabs from nearly a quarter of qualifying arrestees since 1995, the state said. The requirement was supposed to help solve sexual assault cases and put serial offenders behind bars.

Alaska Requires DNA Be Collected From People Arrested for Violent Crimes. Many Police Have Ignored That.

By failing to collect DNA samples when they arrest people as the law requires, Alaskan law enforcement left the state’s DNA database with crucial gaps, allowing at least one serial rapist to go undetected.

After 3 Years and $1.5 Million Testing Rape Kits, Alaska Made One New Arrest

In the state with the highest rate of sexual assault in the nation, testing the backlog of rape kits may not be enough. Many were from cases where the identity of the suspect was already known, or were opened only to find no usable DNA.

Alaska’s “Him Too” Moment: When Politicians and Allies Come With Accusations of Their Own

As scandals force Alaska politicians to resign, nowhere have the accusations been more severe than this remote rural district, where male leaders are proving to be part of the very problems they’re supposed to be solving.

Her Stepfather Admitted to Sexually Abusing Her. That Wasn’t Enough to Keep Her Safe.

More than 30 years after telling a teacher that her stepfather was molesting her, Sherri Stewart is running out of time to understand why he remained free, and why she was sent back to endure more harm.

The Woman Propositioned by Alaska’s Former Lieutenant Governor Tells Her Story for the First Time

In 2018, Jody Potts was the target of misconduct from then-Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. Two days later, he resigned, but the details of what happened have never been publicly told until now.

She Asked to Be Saved From Him. Now She’s Dead.

During the pandemic, domestic violence has killed more people than COVID-19 in rural Alaska. It’s also limited emergency services, and without shelters, many say these deaths are no surprise.

An Opportunity to Listen as Our “Unheard” Project Becomes a Museum Installation

An outdoor installation at the Anchorage Museum will feature 27 sexual violence survivors who chose to tell their stories publicly. "Without the stories, there is silence,” the museum’s director says.

For Decades, She Blamed Herself for the Abuse. Writing Her Story Was an Act of Survival. Publishing It Was an Act of Rebellion.

From early childhood, Tia Wakolee believed she was at fault for being repeatedly assaulted, then she began to chronicle her abuse on index cards arranged on her kitchen table and decided to share her truth.

Her Addiction Landed Her in a Prison Segregation Wing. The Man She Says Abused Her Lives Free.

Ricki Dahlin turned to a life of crime and drug addiction after being sexually abused as a child. “We’re broken. We’re trying to fix ourselves.”

Her Attacker Was Stopped in the Act and Arrested, but This Assault Was Only the Beginning of Her Trauma

Everything Mary Savage did in the hours after the attack was dissected on the witness stand, an experience so upsetting she vomited. But years later, she finds comfort knowing her testimony led to his conviction.

“They Were the Authority and I Didn’t Argue With Authority”

In an era before rape kits, Sue Royston decided to fight for justice even though the police doubted her, the prosecution discouraged her, and those around her dismissed her story.

The Teacher Who Returned to the Small Village Where She was Abused is Not Staying Silent

“I’m not going anywhere.” Marie Sakar tried to treat her trauma with alcohol until she learned that silence only serves to protect those who hurt her. Now, she’s back, sober and teaching in her hometown.

Trapped at Sea, Alone With Her Assailant, He Told Her “You’re Mine for the Week”

Cathleen was raped five hours into a multi-day fishing trip, where she and the captain who assaulted her were the only ones on board. She begged to be taken back to shore, but he said no, they had work to do.

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